Tesla’s South Australia battery project is turning heads. CEO Elon Musk shared a time-lapse animation on Sunday of the Powerpack project under a starry night sky. The 100-megawatt installation in Hornsdale, providing enough power for 30,000 homes, has surprised commentators with its speedy response to plugging power gaps with green energy.
The battery was the result of a bet with Mike Cannon-Brookes, when Musk told the Australian software-billionaire in March 2017 that he could install the system within 100 days or it’s free. The project was crucial for a state that derived around a third of its energy from renewables, as a storm in September 2016 left 1.7 million residents without power. The state government opened the project up to a bidding process that pledged $113 million to fund battery storage, part of a $385 million plan to alleviate the crisis. Musk won the bet by installing just 54 days after the Australian energy regulator gave the thumbs-up.
Musk’s battery had an incredible first month of operations. Analysis showed the battery tends to move between consuming and generating 30 megawatts, with a round-trip efficiency of 80 percent. On December 14, it provided 100 megawatts to the grid in 140 milliseconds when Victoria’s Loy Yant power plant failed. The battery has also answered calls from the Australian Energy Market Operator for supply and demand balances, control signals sent out every four seconds to manage energy requirements.
The project has also helped the Hornsdale Power Reserve make money. Analysis from Energy Synapse shows the plant made $1.4 million for selling power when prices are high and buying when prices are low. While the battery may have lost money on 57 days, 95 percent of the profit came from five sunny days in January and February that led to volatile pricing.
The Tesla project has been a good financial investment and a suitable solution for the state’s energy crisis, and this could inspire more to follow suit. The state of Queensland has suggested it wants the company to bring its products to the state, with plans to reach 50 percent renewable energy by 2030. That may depend on the future makeup of the state government, with elections scheduled for October 31, 2020.
The battery under the stars is inspiring a new wave of energy production.